Book Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Posted May 24, 2014 by Melissa in Book Review | 7 Comments

Title: Dark Eden
Series: Dark Eden #1
Author:  Chris Beckett
Age Group:  Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction | Literary Fiction
Pages: 448
Publisher: Broadway Books | Random House
Publication Date: Apr. 1st 2014 (first pub. 1/1/12)
Available Formats: Hardcover, E-book
Add the book: Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Source: Publisher
Note: I do not recommend this read for the younger YA reader due to some graphic content, sexuality and language


On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.

The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world.

Already remarkably acclaimed in the UK, Dark Eden is science fiction as literature; part parable, part powerful coming-of-age story, set in a truly original alien world of dark, sinister beauty–rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive

My Thoughts


With amazingly written science fiction and deep underlying questions, Dark Eden easily crosses the divide between Genre fiction and Literary fiction.  Every aspect of this read simply blew me away.  The language is rich and deep…descriptive enough that I could feel myself completely immersed in this new Eden.  The characters are well developed and thoroughly interesting..I could not get enough of them or the back stories of the first settlers and how this small band of humans came to exist on such an inhospitable planet. The story and struggles of John Redlantern and all of the minor characters were full of  real depth and consequences…keeping me invested and reading long past my bedtime.

I was absolutely fascinated to see how Beckett drew this new world, how the language and customs had developed and declined over the 150+ years since the landing.  All the “new” words and terms may be daunting at first but they add so much texture to the world building that I fear the picture he paints would be incomplete without them.  Becket explores the way religion and story telling, tradition and ritual inform the society and how it develops while still keeping the reader completely engaged and waiting to see where this tale will next turn.

From one angle Dark Eden is pure YA Science Fiction…the coming of age story, the struggle to survive and to find ones place not only in this new world order but also within the hierarchy of society as it’s developed.  This novel is so much more than that though.  Scratch the surface and we issues of societal decline, questions of gender roles, disabilities, sexuality and more.  I believe this book fully earns a place as literary fiction as well.

Beyond thought provoking…gritty, complex, amazingly imaginative and completely compelling…one of my favorite reads so far this year!


Was It Worth My Time?

5 Timepieces

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7 responses to “Book Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

    • Melissa

      Definitely not your typical YA…I thought a lot of the content was actually a bit more mature. An amazing read regardless.

    • Melissa

      Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t love this one! I’m not sure how much changed when it went to print as this had already been released in 2012 in the UK.

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